Our accusations that the New Independent State of Croatia is not different from its World War II namesake should not be taken lightly. 
The case of Dinko Sakic illustrates it quite well. 

Dinko Sakic's Portfolio 

Dinko Sakic's Portfolio
From the Press
Srpska Mreza

Copyright Reuters 1998

April 8, 1998

Croat suspected of death camp involvement ready to face Argentine court
By: Stephen Brown

BUENOS AIRES A Croatian man living in Argentina and accused of heading a Nazi-era death camp where Serbs, Jews and Gypsies were murdered is not evading arrest and will go to court when summoned, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The 76-year-old Croat, Dinko Sakic, has lived openly in Argentina for 50 years. After his alleged secret was revealed by a television investigation, the Argentine government petitioned a federal court Tuesday for his arrest.

He is accused of ordering thousands of deaths in Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia, which he commanded from December 1942 to October 1944 when he was in his early 20s. Croatia was ruled by the fascist Ustasha regime, puppet of Adolf Hitler's Nazis.

Jasenovac was known as the "Auschwitz of the Balkans" and up to 600,000 people were massacred there, while many Jewish Croats were deported from there to German Nazi death camps.

At his house in the Argentine beach resort of Santa Teresita, where his wife Esperanza spoke to Reuters on Tuesday, a woman who identified herself as the family spokeswoman said nobody was home.

"None of the family are home. I have been asked to take messages. They will give a news conference when everything is cleared up," the woman, who would not give her name, told Reuters by telephone.

Asked about reports he had "vanished," she said: "No. The moment the court summons him, he will make himself available."

Victor Ramos, head of the government's Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism, sought his arrest on the orders of President Carlos Menem. Ramos' staff said he had been called to Menem's office to brief him early on Wednesday.

Sakic's wife had told Reuters that he was "as innocent as a breast-feeding baby. It's such a huge lie. I'm distraught. After 50 years, they come up with atrocious things like this."

She said her husband went to Buenos Aires "to see what is going on." The Croatian embassy in the capital denied reports he was hiding there: "He is not here," said a secretary.

Sakic told Channel 13 investigation that when he ran the camp, it was run humanely: "When I was there no guard or administrator was allowed to so much as touch a prisoner."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish organization which hunts Nazi war criminals, said Jasenovac was one of the most brutal concentration camps of the war, where 600,000 people, mostly Serbs and Gypsies but also 25,000 Jews, were massacred.

Camp guards murdered many of them with hammers.

Sakic's presence is a setback for Argentina's attempts to shake off its image as a haven for Nazis like Adolf Eichmann and Martin Bormann. Post-war leader Juan Peron had fascist sympathies and Sakic said Peron and his wife Evita personally helped him.

It was also the refuge of Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic, who moved to Spain after an assassination attempt in 1957. The country's image has suffered further from its failure to solve two bomb attacks on Jewish targets here in 1992 and 1994.

In Zagreb, Croatian Jews on Wednesday said the government should demand Sakic's extradition and try him in its own territory. "He was the commander of Jasenovac and Jasenovac is a symbol, just like German camps are, a symbol of Nazi attempts to exterminate people," said Mihael Montiljo, head of the Croatian-Israeli Friendship Society.

Sakic said in an interview published in Croatia in 1995 that he was proud of his past "as I was serving my country. There isn't a country in the world where there are no prisons or camps and someone has to do this unrewarding task."

"I sleep like a baby. If I were offered the same post today, I would accept it," he said at the time.

Copyright Srpska Mreza 1998